In 2003, I took out my mobile phone contract with Orange, the main reason being that they were the only mobile phone company who could guarantee that I would have a service when I deployed to Iraq. And true to their word I did indeed have a signal, via the Kuwaiti system, the whole time that I was there.
The only problem that I had was when I attempted to change my direct debit date some months into my contract. It seemed that although the original date was inconvenient for me, that didn't matter. It was inconvenient for Orange to change the direct debit date and so they were unwilling to do so. In the end I had to cancel the direct debit and just pay every month manually, which meant that I was then penalised for not paying by direct debit, resulting in me paying more for my bills.
This went on for some time until I pointed out that it was them that refused to change my direct debit date to one that was convenient to me and that was the reason that I wasn't paying by direct debit. In the end, they accepted that they were at fault, and I was refunded the excess that I had paid.
And so to this year, and the reason for this slight rant.
The telephone account had five separate numbers, mine, Julie's, Drew's, Maggie's and Hannah's. When Julie and I decided that we were moving, it was agreed that Julie's and Hannah's numbers would be moved into a new account that would be in the name of Julie's mum.
So in February of this year, I contacted Orange Customer Services to arrange the transfer of the numbers. The woman with whom I spoke informed me that it would not be possible to do this until after the bill date in March.
In March 2013, I again telephoned Orange to transfer the numbers and was told that it should have been done when I initially telephoned and that there would be a delay in transferring these numbers. Not particularly efficient, and it wasn't until April that the two numbers were removed from my account.
All sorted, just three numbers for me to pay for. Or so I thought!
In May I received a letter from Orange informing me that there was an outstanding balance on my account. As I had only just paid my bill I was a bit surprised so I telephoned the automated service and discovered that I had a nil balance. So yet again I telephoned Orange Customer Services and explained the situation to them. The guy was initially bewildered, but after investigation was able to shed some light on the matter.
He informed me that when the two numbers had been dissociated from my account, rather than being moved straight into the other account they had been moved into a temporary account which should have been closed when the new account was opened, but this hadn't happened. He also informed me that this was a mistake by Orange, apologised, and told me that I should ignore the letter. Sorted? Not quite, because that would suggest that Orange Communications were capable of communicating within their company.
A month later, I received another letter informing me that despite “the previous communication”, there was still an outstanding balance on my account. So I again telephoned Orange Customer Services. Different person, but same outcome. Orange had made a mistake, it would be sorted out; ignore the communication, end of the matter.
Then in July, I received another letter, this one from a debt collection Agency called NCO Europe, informing me that they were acting on behalf of Orange as I had ignored previous communications and demanding even more money (apparently, they had now added their administration fee onto the original sum). And it’s at this point that all pretence at competence has gone out of the window.
I called Orange, who confirmed what they'd told me before, and then I called NCO who didn't believe me. And this was how it would go for about a month. NCO would call me, I would explain the situation, whoever I spoke to would suggest that I was making it up, but would assure me that they would investigate and call me back. And then a different person would call me back, I would explain the situation, whoever I spoke to would suggest that I was making it up, but would assure me that they would investigate and call me back, and so on.
Having spoken with them several times I decided that I would only deal with them in writing, therefore leaving a paper trail. I also wrote a formal letter of complaint to Orange.
And still it goes on, and still there is no resolution. NCO had asked me to send them a copy of the letter that I have written to Orange which I did. They then denied receiving it, despite my receiving read receipts to the email that the letter was sent on. So it has been sent again, read receipts again being received.
As for Orange, they still haven't responded to my letter, so as it is now eight weeks since my original letter of complaint and I have had no response, I have now had to contact the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). I also informed NCO that I had done so and have now received another email from them, addressed to me but with the salutation "Good afternoon Ms Foster", Ms Foster being the person whom I had sent the email to, and who had then forwarded it to the intellectual giant of a colleague who has sent me the email.
Daniela Ferrer Francisco, Operations Team Manager at NCO Europe, assures me that she wishes to resolve this matter and just needs me to email a copy of the letter that I have sent to Orange to enable her to do so. As this would be the third copy that I would have sent them, I have agreed to do so only on the condition that she first attempt to find one of the copies that I have already sent and, if unsuccessful, email me stating that due to her company's incompetence they have lost the previous two copies that they have been sent and wish me to furnish them with a third. Wonder if they will be honest enough to do so.
As for Orange, their slogan for many years was "The future's bright, the future's Orange". It’s a shame that their, and NCO Europe Ltd's, employees appear not very bright.